Contested modernity: Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg and Carl Schmitt and the German Secularization Debate

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This dissertation investigates the debate between Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg and Carl Schmitt on the issue of ‘secularization’ and the problematic place of religion in modernity. Besides reconstructing their philosophical positions, this study also analyzes and evaluates the significance of their contributions in the historical development of the broader German secularization debate. It explores how ‘secularization’ functioned as a key concept in the German societal-intellectual discourse from the 1950s to the 1980s and how their accounts were involved in a grand intellectual struggle to either ‘re-root’ modern society in a religious past or to break free’ from past traditions. As it traces the development of the German secularization debate, this study also focusses on how, after the turbulent year of 1968, this discourse became more overtly political, centering now on Schmitt’s notion of political theology. The political-theological stage of the secularization debate will be exemplified in this investigation by an analysis of the dispute between Jacob Taubes and Odo Marquard. Finally, this study also aims to reflect on the philosophical significance of the contributions of these protagonists for any kind of theorizing on the issue of secularization and modernity. It does so by examining parallels between the German secularization debate and the more recent discourse of postsecularism, and by reflecting on what contemporary (post)secularization theories might gain from knowledge of this German debate.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Nauta, Lodi, Supervisor
  • Vega, Judith, Co-supervisor
Award date1-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-2863-5
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-2864-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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